Miss Sakura begins by quoting a lengthy exchange:

I should like to set the scene by quoting a recent correspondence called “The Aristasian-Hindu Connection” on the “ask Miss Iris” pages:

Dear readers: Related to the previously published question (“AMI: Why stay in church?”) I am also bringing up yet another of the most commonly heard questions.

Dear Miss Iris: Often you mention or reference materials written by the so-called “Aristasian” sect when you discuss certain spiritual or theological matters. I am at loss of words for this. When I visited one of the “Aristasian” websites I saw many pictures of Hindu goddesses and uses of Hindu or Sanskrit words everywhere. Are you attempting to introduce Hindu polytheist/pantheist beliefs into Christianity? What you are doing is abhorrent, and borders on cultic. — Rachel, Washougal, Washington.

Dear Miss Rachel: I do not think the Aristasians are pleased by your characterization of them as a Hindu “cult.” Neither is your understanding of Hinduism as a polytheism correct. I would like to refer to an Aristasian religion FAQ page, which states as thus:
Q: Aristasians in Telluria use images of Dea from Tellurian sources, such as Hindu Devis or even the Virgin Mary. Why is this?

Most simply, because we cannot import images from Aristasia Pura! But actually there is more to it than that. Such images — particularly the Hindu ones — go back in an unbroken line to the original worship of the Mother as Absolute Deity. In Christianity, only the image remains (but the image is still very faithful) while the worship of Dea has been “theologised” out of existence. In Hinduism, while patriarchal myths have been woven about, say Sri Lakshmi, there are many within the tradition who still worship Her as Supreme Deity. Thus these are images in which the direct spiritual influence is still living (the same might be said about Kwan Yin bodhisattva, or the Tibetan Tara). We could use reproductions of more ancient images from prehistoric matriarchal times, and while this is not forbidden, it is generally considered that it is better to use images that are still connected by a living thread to the earliest tradition.

This having said, would I recommend the use of Hindu religious imagery or language in support of a feminine traditionalist religion? Not within the context of the contemporary North America. It is important to note that what you call the “Aristasian sect” is largely a British phenomenon, and unlike Americans, there is a healthy respect for Indian culture there thanks to Britain’s colonial past in India and also because of the large immigrant population there from India. This contrasts with our situation here in North America, in which anything that looks, sounds or smells Hindu are products of fringe cults or Westernized “new age” movements. Fortunately, America still remains to be the most religious nation on earth outside the Islamic theocracies, and religion plays an important role in our culture and social values. My opinion, therefore, is instead of looking elsewhere for a foreign religious tradition why not make the best of the heritage we already have in America, specifically Christianity (and to much extent, Judaism). This is why, unlike Aristasians, I refrain from borrowing much from Hinduism (I have no entitlement to exploit a religious tradition I know little about); instead you see me discussing in terms of Christian theology and hagiography.

This is another topic that may be of interest to those who are interested in Aristasian path (without any attempt at dissuading or discouraging anyone from so doing). In her comment to “Why stay in church,” Miss Sushuri stated:

“[I] have absolutely no sympathy or kindred-feeling with patriarchal traditions whatever. I can accept that they are right within their own “economy”. I can accept that you are more fortunate and perhaps more “valid” than I in being able to come to terms with them… I have not an atom of warmth toward patriarchal tradition in general and have least warmth of all toward the Abrahamic traditions. While I fully accept the quotation from Guénon about the necessity of Christianity for Western Telluria, I have no interest in, or love for, Western Telluria, and on a purely personal level, do not care whether it stands or falls. I certainly do not feel myself to be a part of it or of any patriarchal tradition… Equally I feel no attraction whatever to any form of “feminist” pseudo-cultus, all of which are not only part of the Western patriarchal culture but represent it in its final degeneracy. They have all the faults of West-Tellurian patriarchy with none of its virtues.”

Yet, it is impossible to fully liberate oneself from the “Tellurian traditions,” patriarchal or otherwise. Unfortunately even Hindu in present form is a highly patriarchal faith (think of blatant misogyny in India, in which women are treated as mere chattels), and there really is no existent “living tradition” that is entirely free of patriarchy. Much of Aristasian spirituality and practices today are indeed product of many streams of Tellurian traditions and traditionalists, and as much as one may hope that it is “straight from Aristasia Pura” as though they were brought to them by an extraterrestrial on a space ship, the reality is that there are heavy borrowing from Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on. This, of course, is not “wrong” — I believe that all traditions ultimately trace back to one single source, one single root, Tellurian or otherwise. But it would be dishonest to disclaim one’s connection to the Tellurian traditions.

In this spirit, I am not going to throw out the entire crate of apples just because a few — even the super-majority of it — apples are rotten and infested with patriarchal bugs. I would at least like to make my best effort at salvaging what is left of the Christian heritage, and (being an optimist) reform what is in my hands. I am in no way a radical reformer of Anabaptist or Puritan kind; I am more of a reformer along the line of John+ Wesley and ++Thomas Cranmer. To me, any meaningful reformation requires a preservation of continuity and precedence, or I would be inventing a new religion out of thin air and that would be meaningless.

– Miss Iris

Miss Sushuri said…


I think few comments need to be made here. As Miss Iris has said, Aristasia is not in any sense Hindu, neither is Aristasia (or Hinduism) polytheist or pantheist according to the Western understanding of those terms. It would be much truer to say that we are monotheists with a strong angelology. No orthodox tradition is polytheist in the sense of believing that there can be more than one Absolute, since this is a metaphysical and thealogical absurdity.

Miss Iris writes:

Yet, it is impossible to fully liberate oneself from the “Tellurian traditions,” patriarchal or otherwise. Unfortunately even Hindu in present form is a highly patriarchal faith (think of blatant misogyny in India, in which women are treated as mere chattels), and there really is no existent “living tradition” that is entirely free of patriarchy.

So many points are raised here! In the first place Aristasians have been the first to point out the patriarchal nature of the modern Hindu tradition. We see Hindu images of Dea as being images of the Universal, Primordial Mother God. We see (iconographically correct) Christian images of Our Lady Mary in the same way. The difference is that the Hindu images can come with a correct thealogical interpretation – that these are images of the One God. They can be doctrinally as well as iconographically sound, whereas (at least by the more usual understanding) Christian images cannot.

Christianity, while granting hyperdoulia to Our Lady Mary, denies Her latria because it denies that She is God. In this sense, Hinduism is capable of adopting a thealogically sound position (in Aristasian terms) whereas Christianity is not. This is to say nothing of the patriarchal nature of Hindu society. That is their affair. We are not Hindus.

Now Miss Iris says some rather strong words:

Much of Aristasian spirituality and practices today are indeed product of many streams of Tellurian traditions and traditionalists, and as much as one may hope that it is “straight from Aristasia Pura” as though they were brought to them by an extraterrestrial on a space ship, the reality is that there are heavy borrowing from Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on. This, of course, is not “wrong” — I believe that all traditions ultimately trace back to one single source, one single root, Tellurian or otherwise. But it would be dishonest to disclaim one’s connection to the Tellurian traditions.

Now a lot here depends upon what is meant by the term “connection”. Clearly Aristasian writers have used Hindu (and sometimes Christian and far-Eastern Tellurian) terms quite freely, and have used images from those traditions. We are not making any secret of that.

But what, exactly, is our “connection” supposed to be? In truth, there have been some efforts to forge a certain degree of spiritual “linking” between Tellurian images and “streams” and our faith. This was in pursuit of the practice of “pontification” – building bridges between our faith in Dea and its practice in Telluria, precisely so that we might have some spiritual “grounding” in Telluria.

In this sense, and in this sense only, it might be correct to speak of some form of “connection”, and we have certainly not tried to disclaim it. However we see “living tradition” solely as a conduit leading back to Our Mother God – we have no interest in the various patriarchal accretions which can only be obstacles between ourselves and Her.

Now if one wishes to see Aristasians purely as “Tellurian dissidents” that cannot be helped. It is a natural enough Outland view. But that is not how we see ourselves and it will give no clue as to why we are what we are and think as we do.

Our perspective is very much Aristasian. We are not interested in “reforming” Telluria as a whole or any Tellurian tradition. Our sole allegiance is to our Motherland and to Dea.

Any credence we give to patriarchal traditions is because they are remnants of Universal Truth, not because they are patriarchal. Their patriarchal nature is only an obstacle placed before their Truth. It is only because of their Universality that they can have any value as pontifications.

We are the first to admit that our approach is completely useless for anyone looking for Tellurian “reform”. We are not concerned with it and have no interest in it. Our aim is to love and serve Our Mother God within a feminine nation.

Miss Sakura then comments:

Well I don’t think my position is much of a secret. I am a Filyana and will die a Filyana.

But let’s play Devil’s Advocate for a minute. Princess Mushroom said it is good to play Devil’s Advocate because we can test our position against the hardest arguments.

So, you know, I think a lot about my religion and I understand about the Filianist Controversy and how it came about because of a desire not to be “inventing a religion out of thin air”, as Miss Iris puts it.

I believe that discussion is well resolved. There is very much Tellurian precedent and continuing practice of the worship of Dea as Supreme, Absolute, Sole and Almighty God.

If people want to see the Daughter Mythos as “poems” that enhance that traditional devotion, no Filyana has a problem with that.

It is true that we are not in an established religious tradition. But we need to ask what is meant by a continuous tradition? The Tellurian West currently has a conception of the world so utterly different from any traditional view that we may wonder if their understanding of Christianity bears much relation to that of traditional Christians.

Miss Iris as a priest and sometime Bishop of a rather wayward-seeming branch of the Catholic and Apostolic Church might well see the continuity lying in the validity of the Sacraments. Now various questions might be raised by other Christians about the validity of an Apostolic Succession so far from “Established” norms, and others may wish to question the validity of those “norms” themselves – having strayed so far from Tradition. By no means all would accept the validity of a female priesthood.

So already we are in a quandary about who is “making up their religion”.

But even if we ignore all this and place our faith in the Sacraments, where does that leave all our non-Sacramental Protestants? Are they making up their religion? Or are they guaranteed by the Bible – despite an interpretation of it that mediaeval Christians might scarcely recognize.

And our Mormon friends? Are they meaningless?

In their case I would be hard pressed not to say that much of their religion is not “made up”, but I certainly cannot discount their faith because of that, or believe that their God is no God (despite the fact that they do not see Her quite as I believe they should).

So do we have to accept any and everything that calls itself “religion”? I for one do not accept most “New Age” and “Pagan” constructions. But even there I cannot say that they are not approaching God somehow – however misguidedly. That is for Her to judge, not I.

Tests I would tend to apply are those of devotion, humility and purity (which much New Agism does not pass) and of authentic traditional understanding (which much modern Christianity – both “mainstream” [i.e. liberal] and fundamentalist – does not pass). Our Filyani faith does pass these tests. I am not saying others are “meaningless” if they don’t, but they seem like very important tests.

To take another approach – I saw a book by Marina Warner, called Alone of all Her Sex. This book is about Our Lady Mary as the Christians see Her. Honoured Miss Warner argues that the “deification” of Our Lady Mary only made things worse for women, because they were considered fallen and degraded and Mary was the only pure “woman”.

I don’t want to get into arguments about whether she is right or wrong. And that is the point. I don’t have to. It is not my concern as an Aristasian to get embroiled in all the pushing and pulling over faith and its effect on femini and the patriarchal nature of cultures that worship Dea and whether the half-worship of Dea in the West is even more patriarchal than man-god worship.

Am I being told that for the sake of the highly uncertain advantages conferred by a claimed continuity of patriarchal religion with its fundamental bases (bases, I might say, that if they are valid at all, are valid because they go back to our religion) – I am compelled to plunge back into the ugliness chaos of late Telluria?

Am I really being asked to allow myself to be dragged into the mess and cruelty of the patriarchal world – which I have otherwise rejected – for the sake of religion?

There are many people that want to drag me back to their grubby “reality” on a thousand different pretexts.

But to tell me that is what my Dea wants of me?


Sushuri Madonna wrote

Oh well said Sakura-chei!

I so appreciated this post and your last one about language and purity. You are so forthright and strong about our Faith, and I remember when you were a teensy new girl that used to ask me questions (pride).

I just wanted to explain that thing I said about not feeling warm toward Abrahamic religions, because I feel it might be misunderstood. It is true that I have no personal warmth and could not imagine following one. They seem very alien and somehow heavy with masculinity and materiality. I recently spent time in an art gallery showing pictures from several centuries of Christian history and I came away feeling almost weighted down by the huge accretion of beards, crucifixions and general heaviness. It felt like a black hole of super-gravity. It seemed to me like a (literal) carnival of masculinity and gross materiality.

But having said that I must state that I feel no hostility whatever toward the religion. I feel much more comfortable in the Southern States of America where there is a general atmosphere of faith than I ever did in the gray, brainless, irreligious emptiness of Western Europe.

It is not my faith, and I think even trying to make it mine would give me the bends. But I respect it in a way that I cannot ever respect the smirking stupidity of irreligion or the callow glibness of New Agery.

However high the fences that separate faiths, they are nothing compared to the oceans that separate us from the faithless.

To which Lady Aquila responds

Honoured Miss Sakura. Your reference to Mormons raises a perfectly fascinating point with regard to the question of “fantasy” in religion.

Mormonism contains, in my view, considerable elements of fantasy – not in the sense that vulgar atheists attribute the term to anything supernatural, but in the sense of wild imaginings of a purely human nature. Good old-fashioned balderdash. Taradiddles.

I have met Christians who see no distinction between this and Islam (which they see as being equally fabricated by the Prophet) and atheists who see no distinction between this and Christianity.

But I think most of us can see that there is a distinction between revelations of the Christian and Islamic order and the mid-romantic fancies of Mr. Smith Jr.

The question is, how far, if at all, does the fantastical nature of the origins of this teaching invalidate the devout faith of millions?

The question has become clouded to some extent by the emergence of a profoundly anti-traditional “New Age” movement which has led sensible people to even greater caution in these matters.

But I feel – and I believe many others will feel with me – that the oddities of the LDS Church, great as they may be, do not invalidate the path to God trodden by its sincere members. I am no expert on the Church, but I do not believe it incorporates fundamental spiritual flaws, such as the egoism, humanism, and snippets of half-digested and misplaced “scientism” inherent in New Agery.

I certainly do not place Filianism on a level with Mormonism. It does certainly not incorporate flights of pure fantasy. Some people see it as a sort of “feminised Christianity”, but that is mostly because they are unfamiliar with the tradition of the Sacrificial Saviour in its pre-Christian and feminine forms.

A direct Tellurian line of heritage does not exist for Filianism, and its modern doctrinal formulation is quite recent (about thirty years old, as far as we can tell).

As Miss Sakura says, no one is obliged to accept Filianism as Revealed Truth: at its “weakest” we may take it as a “poetic support” to Déanism – the simple worship of Our Mother God.

Filianism is by no means universal in the Motherland, and we do not know how things will fall out in Aristasia-in-Telluria. What we have found is that Filianism seems to work in Telluria. It provides a firm, yet flexible, thealogical structure; an emotionally satisfying and doctrinally lucid approach to Our Mother God.

As non-literalists, unaffected by the rationalist revolution (which profoundly influences almost all West Tellurian thinking and controversy about religion), we are less concerned with whether Filianism is the Sole Truth than with whether it is an adequate and proper way of seeing that Truth which can never be exhausted by any mythos or formulation.

And if to some people that reduces to “oh, it is just a pretty story then” – well, provided they truly believe in Dea, we don’t mind. The One Thing Needful is the belief and worship of Our Mother God, the Sole Absolute and Creatrix of earth and Heaven.

I believe in the Daughter as my Saviour. I do not think She is a “pretty story”, though I accept that there are other ways of seeing the same Truth, both Déanist and patriarchal, many of which do not specifically incorporate a Saviour (which is only to say that they formulate Her differently).

But taking the worst-case, devil’s-advocate scenario – that Filianism is pure fantasy – it is certainly no more fantasy than Mormonism and no less capable of being a haven and refuge for genuinely devout souls on their way home to Dea.

I don’t take that devil’s-advocate view at all. I think the love of the Saviour is Universal and despite our lack of continuous tradition, we are of Her congregation.

But it is worthwhile to consider that even if we are wrong, we are still calling upon the One Mother who has said:

“None shall call upon Me and be lost”.